You look outside the classroom window and see yet another in a long string of gloomy days. Inside the classroom, restless students seem mired in malaise. It must be time for a field trip! No money, you say, for buses or admission fees? No time for travel? Then why not a virtual field trip? The Web provides the resources; you provide the fun. Every day is a beautiful day for a virtual field trip! Included: Tips for creating your own virtual field trips.
Have you ever taken your students on a virtual field trip? If not, you're missing a great opportunity. You can take your students outside the classroom without ever opening the door. Like regular field trips, virtual field trips are designed to be entertaining and educational.
"[Taking a virtual field trip] is so much better than boarding a school bus and going to a museum or something and listening to a boring speech about each of the exhibits," Emily, a high school student from Maine, told Education World after she and her classmates took a virtual trip to view the Natural Wonders of the World. "It's better in that I could view each place in my own time; I wasn't rushed through, like on many field trips. I would gladly go on this type of field trip [again]. It saves time and money and is very convenient," added Emily.
Virtual field trips tailored to every grade level are springing up all over the Internet. Trips range from the simple, such as a photo tour of a famous museum, to extremely detailed and high-tech field trips that offer video and audio segments to make the visit more interactive.
However simple or complex, virtual field trips can take your students to a completely new world -- and the trips are as close as your computer.
WHERE CAN YOU GO ON A VIRTUAL FIELD TRIP?
On a virtual field trip, you and your students can go just about anywhere on Earth -- or even into the solar system.
For a trip to another galaxy, check out The Nine Planets. An engineer who has a great love of the solar system put this site together. The star buffs in your classroom will love it, too.
For a trip to another environment, how about Live from Antarctica 2? Students can follow a team of explorers through every step of their trip across the frozen continent. The site includes activities, reasearcher questions and answers, links to related sites, and more.
Maybe you'd like to take your city kids someplace they might not get the chance to visit on their own. Then check out one of the six virtual tours at 4-H Virtual Farm. Here, students can visit a horse farm, a beef or dairy farm, a poultry farm, and a wheat farm. There's even a fish farm.
MANY MORE EXAMPLES ON THE WEB
Those are just a handful of thousands of virtual field trips students can take on the Web. Some are very simple, created by students, teachers, and parents. Others are big-budget productions that include several trips and extensive teaching resources. Either way, virtual field trips provide opportunities for new discovery in the classroom.
CREATE YOUR OWN VIRTUAL FIELD TRIP
Any teacher -- or student -- who is even remotely computer savvy can create a virtual field trip. It's as simple as taking a camera along when the class goes off on a field trip. Take plenty of photos, then upload them to your computer and add them to your class or school Web site.
You'll find additional resources to help you create great virtual field trips in the Additional Virtual Field Trip Links section of this article.
TEACHERS TALK ABOUT THE VALUE OF GOING VIRTUAL
Teachers Education World talked to seemed to really enjoy using and creating virtual field trips with their students. Students seem to value them as a way to learn about places they might never get to visit. "I decided that the World Wide Web offered an excellent way to access these places, events, and opportunities," said Gary Gillespie, a Seattle teacher who has created a number of virtual field trips for his students. "Students can explore the sites and use the information and pictures for reports or speeches."
So, if you want to take your class around the world, it's never been easier. You can create field trips for your students to experience and enjoy or explore the many trips just waiting to be discovered on the Web. Either way, the world and all its many wonders are waiting, just a click of the mouse away.
ADDITIONAL VIRTUAL FIELD TRIP LINKS
You can learn more about virtual field trips with these links to field trips:
Article by Sherril Steele-Carlin
Copyright © Education World
Last updated 02/28/2012